After wrapping up the training in San Diego, I came right to Alaska to start my internship. It still amazes me that through this internship with EFTA I have this great opportunity to work with the Forest Service in Cordova. As soon as I got off the plane, I was met by Melissa Gabrielson, my site supervisor. Melissa was more than welcoming and she gave me a quick rundown of what to expect here in Alaska. She showed me where I would be staying, she introduced me to the office, and showed me a bit around town. Even though I was tired from a long day of traveling, her energy and the town vibe really resonated with me. I was meeting people left and right, and little did I know about how friendly the people were here. I was amazed. It’s a tight knit community in Cordova and I felt it wherever I went. I was invited to dinners, hiking trips, jam sessions, and hangouts all within the first week even though I was completely new in town. The friendliness was a bit shocking but I appreciate the fact because it made settling in so much easier.


When I arrived the weather was absolutely beautiful. Sunny clear skies greeted me as soon as I stepped off the plane and for the majority of the week. I had heard many things about the weather in Cordova, but I apparently managed to luck out. I was expecting foggy, cloudy, and rainy days after all the stories I was told, but its was a great first week. It did snow a couple of times, but even then the town looked amazing. Cordova looks just like what you’d imagine it would be on a postcard! I’m still getting used to constantly walking on snow and ice, but that isn’t a big deal. I just strap some ice cleats and voilà, I can’t even tell the difference! I make the walk back home no problem, day or night, snow or shine!

And who is that in my featured image you ask?! Well none other than the taskmaster, the super fresh, the cool cat, wicked rad 2016 EFTA Cordova intern, Christine Smith! She was in my shoes a year ago and is still in the area, so she was able to pop in for a visit (her blog is totally worth checking out, she’s got awesome posts with her own twist on the Cordova experience)! I was fortunate enough to have her around during my first week here and she definitely helped me ease into the position. From day one, we were joking and getting along as if we were catching up after lost time. We went out to Sherdian Glacier and had plenty of time to chat about all sorts of things. I can’t say it was particularly cold that day but I know we were chilled by the end of it. I bet the ice got thicker where we walked through. We probably dropped the ambient temperature by a couple of degrees (alright I’ll stop…). The ice never seemed so interesting though and we spent quite a bit of time taking pictures and exploring. We may have even stumbled on some kryptonite but that’s up for debate. That week we were also able to snow shoe our way up a trail that overlooks Cordova. We took plenty of more pictures up there too. We were one of the first up the trail since the last snowfall and the view the whole way up there was awesome.

Christine was really helpful in easing into Cordova. We covered so much during the first week, from what’s it like in the bunkhouse, to working in the office, and what there is to do around town. She showed me the ropes around the office and she showed me the sites where I will be doing my shorebird counts. We did some planning as well and I was able to meet people through the connections that she had made during her time here. We also painted some quilts with the local kids as part of a shorebird outreach project. Christine is a great artist and I was able to see her get into her zone and paint a very intricate red knot. I wouldn’t be surprised if they reject it because it was too good!

It was great to have had my mentor around for the first week and I hope I can carry the torch as well as she did. Shout out to you, Christine! You da real MVP!
I’m finally getting the hang of Alaska, over to new adventures! I can’t wait to see what else Cordova has to offer.

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

– Isaac Newton

Categories: 2017 Interns

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